Updated 5:15 p.m. Dec. 11
It appears that the missing package full of Christmas gifts was just a wheelie and a grind away from Sarasota Skate Park.
The package wasn't stolen, and it turns out the box was accepted by a volunteer at the Sarasota Police Department and was found in a storage room there, The Herald-Tribune reports:
Instead, UPS accidentally delivered the package to the Sarasota Police Department across the street from the skate park, where a volunteer signed for it and added the package to the pile of daily deliveries in a storage room, Capt. Paul Sutton said.
The skate park is due to reopen Wednesday by 3 p.m., weather cooperating, according to the City of Sarasota.
The original report on Patch (below) set off a media frenzy with The Herald-Tribune and WWSB also covering the incident.
The temporary closure of the park might have violated a city contract, WWSB reported:
And to make matters worse -- even if the package had been stolen -- the park is city property and the manager signed an agreement with the City of Sarasota stating he will keep it open a minimum of five days a week, for at least 36 hours.
Update 11 a.m. Dec. 11
It appears that a grinch stole Christmas presents at Payne Skate Park.
The Payne Skate Park's Sk8skool was supposed to have special ordered Christmas gifts in stock by now, but instead a thief signed for the package while the store was closed and the park refuses to reopen until the package is returned.
Dan Giguere and Mike Walling of SK8SKOOL Inc. outlined their issue over the weekend on the Payne Skate Park Facebook page and Giguere announced that as of Sunday, the park will be closed until the merchandise is in their hands.
The pro shop at the park was scheduled to receive a package on Dec. 4 from UPS containing boards, wheels and trucks valued at $560, but UPS delivered before the pro-shop was open and let someone sign for the package named "Hertznotz," according to Walling.
"We don't want to press charges if we don't have to, we need the product in the store not in the police evidence locker," Walling wrote. "If we get the stuff back we will not pursue criminal charges."
The nonprofit does not plan to file charges, but are checking surveillance tapes to identify the thief, according to Walling and Giguere. The park will be adding extra weeks/days for park passes to make up for the closure, according to Giguere.
Sk8skool took over skate park operations in 2010. The skate park opened in 2003.
UPS offers insurance for lost or stolen packages, but according to park management, the insurance would not pay in time for the customers to get their Christmas gifts.
While some folks online are feeling for the skatepark's theft, they wonder if they are overreacting.
Facebook user Gary Altiero believes the skate park management could have taken another approach:
"I think you are demonstrating a knee jerk reaction that is wholly inappropriate and going to do nothing other than hurt future attendance at the park for an undetermined period of time because the longer you are closed the more these kids are going to get used to going elsewhere and doing other things not to mention the revenue you lose by being closed," Altiero wrote. "This is like killing a fly with a sledge hammer as the fly lands on your forehead."
After Patch first reported the story, The Herald-Tribune talked to Giguere and Wallace and reports there is a difference of opinion on the closing of the park:
"I did what I thought was in the best interest of the skate park and the staff," Giguere said. "Everyone can be a tough guy on the Internet, but when it comes to face to face, are they really going to say this without knowing all the facts?"
With looming rent and insurance payments, Giguere said closing the park, even for a short time, was a tough call.
The manager of Sk8Skool's skate shop said he did not support the move, adding that this is a critical time for holiday sales.
"I think it's like shooting ourselves in the foot," manager Mike Walling said.
Vandals have already caused headaches before for the skate park when they destroyed the restrooms in August, forcing the city to install port-a-pots until the restrooms were reopened this fall.
If you have more information on this case, call Sarasota Police at 941-316-1199.